‘Hits you always will remember – the golden hour’ – the radio jingle had a 1970s feel. Most of the 1980s hits played had long disappeared from my memory, and the songs that I remembered seemed to be ignored.
In 1980 I had a voluntary job that came with board and lodge and £10 a week pocket money.
My housemates were preparing to be monks; there was no television in the gate lodge in which we lived; no radio, and only an elderly portable record player on which to play the handful of old LPs they had. Their conversation was often esoteric religious stuff; not much in it to interest a 20 year old with no religious background. The best moments were when they got out their Woodstock records and talked of times when it seemed that the world could have been a good place.
The pocket money didn’t go far, even in 1980, not that there was much to spend the money on; a pint at the local pub and occasional visits to the cinema to see things that were even half interesting.
Slowly I began to buy odd records of my own. These were greeted with scorn and derision by my housemates; I still laugh at memories of them singing their own words to Blondie’s ‘Atomic’. They were good blokes; just from a generation before the rough edgedness of punk.
Hazel O’Connor’s ‘Breaking Glass’ was among the handful of records bought. The album came from the film of the same name, a film that tracked the meteoric rise and fall of a fictional rock star. The rock star’s fall comes with deep depression, and the angst and melancholy of the music express the pain of being unable to communicate from behind a wall of darkness.
The film was shown at the cinema and I bought the album at a record shop. I played it, again and again. The lyrics still come back with little attempt at recall. ‘Will You?’, a track released as a single, expresses a sense of complete inability to put into words what it was you wanted to say.
Hazel O’Connor was forgotten for years. Searching through my old vinyl collection one evening, I rediscovered ‘Breaking Glass’, and a copy of her second album ‘Sons and Lovers’, and a copy of her third album, ‘Cover Plus’. I remembered travelling to Brighton on a bus with my luggage in a Sainsbury’s carrier bag to see her play at the Brighton Conference Centre, a trip that must have cost at least a week of my money.
Hazel O’Connor had three top ten hits in 1981, I have never once heard them on the golden hour – it’s not the hits you always will remember.